Adopted Children's Prolonged Exposure to Prolonged Childhood Adversity
Exposure to profound adversity in childhood, while the brain and mind are rapidly developing, can cause severe post-traumatic stress. It also can cause alterations in development that may change the entire course of a child’s life and health. This has been amply illustrated by the accumulating findings of a profound negative impact of adverse childhood experiences medical on health as well as psychosocial development and quality of life (see ACE Study).
Such “developmental traumas” appear to shift the brain away from activation based on creatively exploring the world—what I have called the “learning brain” in the 2009 book with Christine Courtois, Treatment of Complex Traumatic Stress Disorder. Childhood adversity can lead, instead, to a brain organized around chronic hypervigilance (the "survival brain").